Florida Becomes the Largest State to Mandate a Financial Literacy Course for Graduation

AP Photo/John Raoux

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants his state’s high school students to be prepared to succeed in the world no matter what career path they choose to follow. And one requirement for success in a capitalist society like America is the ability to understand money.


To that end, Florida will now mandate that all students be required to take a financial literacy course “to learn the basics of money management, understanding debt, understanding how to balance a checkbook, understanding the fundamentals of investing,” DeSantis said at a press conference on Wednesday.


“Whether our students choose to go to one of our great colleges or universities, do a trade or apprenticeship program, a career in the arts or the military, every student deserves to be equipped with the education and knowledge to succeed financially in our society,” said Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera, a Republican and one of the main sponsors of the bill.

Florida is the latest in a growing trend of states adopting legislation that includes personal finance education for students.

“The world of money is changing so fast, if we don’t help our students keep up, the next generation is going to repeat cycles of a lack of financial literacy,” said Yanely Espinal, director of educational outreach at Next Gen Personal Finance, a nonprofit.

As much as learning how to read, learning how to manage personal finances is one of the most important survival skills for young people to learn.

But there’s a real question of whether teachers are competent enough to teach it.

Money Q&A:

“Teachers feel unqualified to teach financial literacy,” says Julie Heath, director of the Economics Center and economics professor in at the University of Cincinnati. “Eighty-two percent say they are not prepared to teach these concepts, even as over 90 percent of them think they need to be taught in schools.”

“Schools and districts shouldn’t place any teacher in a position to teach subject matter he or she feels unqualified to teach,” says Heath. “Shrinking budgets mean that teachers often do not get the professional development that would make them more confident to teach financial literacy.”

How well qualified to teach financial literacy, for example, is a teacher with $50,000 in credit card debt?


Some on the right might see teaching children about money as the responsibility of parents. Most people might agree that teaching the basics of financial literacy should begin at home. But not all parents feel confident in teaching their children what they need to know. And some kids don’t have parents at all.

The issue is too important not to be all-inclusive and mandatory — just like instruction in the Constitution and other civics lessons.

DeSantis has once again proven himself to be an innovative and able leader.


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